No question about it - it takes a while. But it's WORTH it. And, like the pesto, this can be frozen and used months and months later, and for many things other than pasta sauce - soup bases, eggplant/chicken parmagiano, lasagna, etc.
If you're of a cooking mindset, try making this sauce at least once, and then tell me if it isn't awesome sauce, literally!
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 cups of canned Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped, or 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper (or, ya know, not freshly ground :D I'm not a pepper monkey (tm Top Chef), so I'm not as picky)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 1 teaspoon fresh or 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Heat the oil in a skillet or saucepan. Add the garlic and cook just until it's soft - about 1 minute.
- Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and the parsley.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, or until hot - but make sure the tomatoes still have their shape - i.e. they haven't gone mushy. (SEE NOTES BELOW - this was the original recipe which we have been ignoring for at least 75 years)
- Add the oregano at the last minute.
Now, here's the trick. WE NEVER cook it for just 2-3 minutes. That gives you that chunky psuedo-homestyle sauce.
From my aunt's notes: "If you cook them for 20 minues, the sauce is thick, velvety and rich in taste, producing an exceptional smooth sauce. Further cooking reduces them still more and concentrates the flavor."
So, here's what I do, which is what my aunt did, and my grandmother. And probably on back :D
We start off the process in a BIG pot. We double or triple the recipe. Then, when we get to the 3rd step, we lower the heat way down, till it's just simmering. We cook that down, and down. Maybe 30 minutes? Maybe more - it's an experimentation thing. TRICK: Put the lid on the pot. Stir every few minutes, or so.
Yeah, it takes longer. IT'S WORTH IT. Your tastebuds will SING. You will hate to use Ragu, Prego, etc again.
ETA: And, as I said below in comments - I kinda hestitated to say how long I have been known to cook this. I've gone as long as 4 hours, with a tripled recipe. It ends up being like tomato ambrosia.
Notice that there's no sugar in this recipe? Yeah. When you cook something down this much, it gains a sweetness all its own. You don't need the sugar.
- Meat sauce: Remove skin from 1 pound Italian sausage - sweet, hot, or both. Crumble the sausage meat into 1/4 cup of dry red or white wine, or dry or sweet vermouth. Cook until the wine has evaporated and the sausage is lightly browned. Pour off the fat and add the meat to the sauce.
- More veggie: 1/4 green bell pepper, diced and 1/2 onion, sliced. Saute this with the garlic in the oil. Continue rest of recipe as above.
Again, you can freeze this. I'll post some recipes later that you can make using this.